From a global pandemic to raging wildfires on the west coast, there are numerous challenges affecting the automotive industry across tiers. Unique market conditions—that would have been impossible to predict—have forced automotive marketers to toss out their original 2020 strategies and find efficiencies for the present moment.
Driving differentiation and consistency from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to the dealership’s advertising strategy is easier said than done, but marketing experts spanning the three automotive tiers unveiled key strategies to do exactly that on episode six of the Effectv In Focus webcast.
Re-examine your media mix based on economic factors
Economics are working against auto marketers, across all tiers in some cases. Low inventory supply, strong demand (after an initial dip), and high new vehicle margins have caught many off guard, forcing dealers and agencies to re-examine their media mix allocations and investments from the ground up.
OEM’s have had to adjust their planning cycles and accelerate decision making on how they deploy supporting assets, investments, and inventory to the market, at times reassessing on a daily basis as market conditions and restrictions change. A new balance should be considered between speed-to-market and thorough planning as dealers look to align with the OEM guidelines, while also having the flexibility to differentiate themselves within a rapidly evolving market.
“Every day is different and one of the key words we’ve used is flexibility,” said David Regn, Co-Founder of Stream Companies, an integrated advertising agency. He adds, “we want to give [dealerships] the most amount of opportunities to sell the most amount of cars in their market… we’re very data-driven.”
Flexibility has become the new buzzword – the need to constantly be monitoring and poised to adjust strategies and tactics to ensure the right message is being deployed to the right customer, at the right time, and via the right medium. There is also a new balance between focusing on lower-funnel audiences with high propensities to purchase and maintaining a healthy brand image in front of customers that are near in-market.
Align tier strategies to create consistency
A consistent thread throughout marketing efforts is as important now as ever. De-duplication along with streamlining advertising messages like in-market offers that match up with available inventory are key to creating a better customer experience. “We have several people on our team that help pull all of [our marketing tactics] together to ensure that our media isn’t overlapping and really is complementary to each additional layer that [we] add on,” said Marcie Perez, Associate Director, Integrated Marketing at Cadillac.
For Cadillac—and other OEMs—it’s table stakes to know which campaigns from the local dealerships are in-market but giving them enough lead time to ready campaigns with the tier 1 strategy in mind is key. That lead time should not only help provide consistency but also efficiency as messages reach savvier potential car buyers who more and more, are shopping online.
Jeremy Beaver, President at Del Grande Dealer Group in California observes, there’s a need for “better communication to [car buyers] when they go online and they see that experience or item they’re shopping for, so there is not this extreme mixed message, and that helps everyone down [the sales] funnel.”
The message matters, and so does partnership
Along those lines, clear messaging that’s sensitive to how potential car buyers are feeling and what they may need is just as important. “Very early on [in the pandemic],” says Marcie, “it wasn’t the right time be trying to sell vehicles, it was really an ownership support message that we were putting out there to ensure that all of owners knew that we were still open and available to help them in whatever the situation was… financial, service or ‘your lease is ending and you can’t get to a dealership’.”
Who better to help advise on customer sentiment in order to reach audiences with the right message at the right time, than advertising partners? It is critical for advertising partners to help dealers and agencies think differently:
- Explore how access to new sources of data create actionable insights
- Shift towards audience targeted solutions to eliminate waste
- Introduce new performance measurement strategies that help dealers realize true ROI
- Investigate how new market conditions can help to identify new, unique opportunities for their business
To this end, broad sweeping and standardized strategies no longer work, and advertisers still utilizing cookie cutter approaches could find themselves in trouble. After all, there is no such thing as status quo in today’s environment.